A 100km trek down Africa’s Zambezi River is set to be part of an epic fundraising initiative which staff from Start360 have signed up to. The Cathedral Quarter based charity provides services to young people and families requiring support, with staff working with clients aged eight to 80.

Assistant manager with Start360, and St John the Baptist Slimming World consultant, Melissa Frame said all funds raised will allow the organisation to continue its work “so our services will continue to cover the areas of health, employability and justice”.

“Simply the money raised will help us to deliver more services to more people.”

When the trek to and through Africa’s fourth-longest river was green-lighted in the office Melissa said that her

automatic reaction to the challenge was “no way!”

“Basically the challenge will make intrepid explorers out of the team of 16 who are going in October,” she said. “At Start360 we are all about building family relationships, building stable family relationships, we currently have 27 services running across the north and the funds raised from Zambezi will enable us to continue our work and provide additional services such as play therapy, family residentials and diversionary activities.

“Once the initial shock settled that I had signed up to do this I knew this is an opportunity to challenge myself, see part of the world I haven’t seen before but most importantly raise much needed funds to develop services for the young people and vulnerable adults we work with daily.

“My biggest fear is all of it,” she laughed. “Mostly the white water rapids that we will all be facing. But at the end of the day we will be making incredible memories that will last a lifetime and we are doing this for a fantastic organisation.”

Melissa explained that the team will be hosting a St Patrick’s Day BBQ close to the Duke of York and Harp Bar with all proceeds raised going towards the trek fund.

“McAuley’s Butchers from the Falls Road have very kindly donated burgers on the day and we are also hosting a white collar boxing event at the Devenish on May 27, so it’s all go. So far we have received great support and I’m planning on organising an event that my Slimming World group can take part in as well to help with the fundraising. No matter what it will be an adventure we will all remember.”

“The idea for the challenge came about when I was trying to think of a different way to mark my 30th,” said caseworker Chris Muir, “I mentioned it in the office and the rest is history. I can’t wait for the trip and of course we are all hoping to raise a shed load of money for Start360. It’s not going to be easy, you are going to be faced with over 30 degree heat in October, the white water rapids, we are camping but it’s for a great cause and it will be a trip we won’t forget.“

To donate to Start360’s fundraising drive online visit: www.campaign.justigving.com/charity/start360/zambezi360